Professor Thomas Sheehan
Department of Religious Studies
Who was the historical Jesus of Nazareth? What did he actually say and do, ascontrasted with what early Christians (e.g., Paul and the Gospel writers) believed thathe said and did?
What did the man Jesus actually think of himself and of his mission, as contrasted withthe messianic and even divine claims that the New Testament makes about him? In short, what are the differences.and continuities.between the Jesus who lived and died in history and the Christ who lives on in believers. faith?
Over the last four decades historical scholarship on Jesus and his times.whetherconducted by Jews, Christians, or non-believers.has arrived at a strong consensusabout what this undeniably historical figure (born ca. 4 BCE, died ca. 30 CE) said anddid, and how he presented himself and his message to his Jewish audience. Often thathistorical evidence about Jesus does not easily dovetail with the traditional doctrines ofChristianity. How then might one adjudicate those conflicting claims?
This is a course about history, not about faith or theology. It will examine the best available literary and historical evidence about Jesus and his times and will discussmethodologies for interpreting that evidence, in order to help participants make theirown judgments and draw their own conclusions.